There is no denying e-commerce has completely revolutionized growth across the globe for businesses. While these platforms were initially targeted toward B2C sales, the acceleration of growth in B2B e-commerce is undeniable.
In 2018, business sales through direct websites and other online marketplaces grew to more than $1 trillion—accounting for approximately 7% of all B2B sales. These astounding numbers are forecasted to continue to grow. In fact, Forrester Research estimates that B2B e-commerce will reach more than $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the United States in 2023.
B2B e-commerce enables sellers to reach more customers, sell more products, focus on even greater growth, streamline sales processes, and most importantly, provide companies with a powerful tool that supports customers’ evolving procurement needs. E-commerce sales channels also offer customers a convenient way to conduct business transactions on their own terms—buying when, where, and how they deem necessary. According to Forrester Research, 53% of B2B buyers look to make most of their purchases online. Understanding how customers want to conduct business with a company provides opportunities for real growth and creates a solid foundation for customer loyalty.
In 2014, O’Neal Steel placed a heavy focus on understanding the vast potential and extraordinary benefits a comprehensive e-commerce platform could bring to the metals business. Our aim was to create something the industry had never seen before that would make it easier for our customers to source all their metal needs and set us apart from our competitors. We forged a trail to build something revolutionary—PRONTO®.
PRONTO® opened the conversation for what e-commerce can do in a B2B setting. In understanding how we can adapt to this fast-paced technology driven world and realizing more about the impact of e-commerce on our industry, we have learned a few key things:
Understand Customer Demographics
In understanding the impact of e-commerce, it is also incredibly important to understand customer demographics. With more people buying online than ever before, we must identify where our customers are in understanding how they value technology in their business. We continue to learn that the utilization of technology is necessary to meet our customers where they want to be met.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Throughout history, we as humans have found ways to work smarter, not harder. From the invention of the wheel to electricity, many before us understood the value of creating ways to make life easier and lessen the workload. Automation has allowed millions of processes to become more efficient, and this is true of an e-commerce platform. E-commerce has the potential to make life easier and allow us to do more with less.
Most importantly, to meet the evolving needs of customers in today’s B2B world, companies must also evolve. At O’Neal Steel, we not only evolve and embrace change, we lead change. We understand the true value of technological transformation. We see technology as an opportunity to positively impact our business and bust the doors wide open with possibilities.